Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jake and Ginger: My attempt to adopt a second dog

This weekend I went to the Wisconsin Humane Society twice. First to check out a dog named Jake, then to have him meet Ginger. I had high hopes: Jake is a 9½-year-old shepherd husky mix. He’s black with brown paws and a bushy tail. He’s peppy but doesn’t need a lot of exercise. His paperwork described him as “shy and lacking confidence” and “needing his own quiet space,” but he was so sweet — I love dogs who lean into you when you pet them — I thought maybe he’d defer to Ginger and we could be a party of three.

Jake and Ginger are very different dogs. He has a smooth blocky head that doesn’t quite match his wavy fur. And he’s bear-like: round and stocky. Chubby with good teeth, someone took good care of him. (He doesn't really look like his photo. Also, his ears are floppier in person.) Ginger, on the other hand, has an Everydog quality about her. Even though she has super-expressive eyes and a pink-flecked gumdrop nose and can flip her ears inside out, what you’d first notice about her is that she looks like a prototypical dog. Personality-wise, they are also different. Jake is not motivated by food, toys, or exercise — and only mildly by praise. A nice laid-back guy. Ginger, on the other hand, vacuums up food and makes eye contact when she ignores commands. Very alpha.

The adoption counselor brought Jake outside and Ginger barked at him. They sniffed each other and he licked her mouth (a sign of submission, apparently). Then Ginger stood next to Jake, barking nonstop while he kept his back turned. This was actually okay until she tried to show her dominance by climbing on top of him. He snarled at her — not a good match. All of this transpired over maybe ten minutes. For most of that time, though, things were going okay, not horribly. Which makes me wonder: could they have worked it out? Isn't that what dogs do? They may pace and growl, but eventually, they fall into a comfortable relationship.

Jake is the third dog I’ve taken Ginger to meet and the one she best tolerated. But since she’s an older lady, I think she prefers to be the only dog. Around other dogs, she seems to demand both attention and submission, and who could keep up with that? I don't know how to find her a companion, but pairing a lover and a fighter isn't in the cards.

1 comment:

michelle said...

I'm so sad that it didn't work out. I do wonder if the Humane Society folks aren't a bit conservative with their "approvals"--I guess they want to be safe rather than sorry, but it is definitely hard on the owner.

I hope you find a new friend for Gigi!